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The Listener

Rod Liddle finds his inner SJW listening to Justin Timberlake

The singer shows how far a white man can go by pretending to be black

10 February 2018

9:00 AM

10 February 2018

9:00 AM

Grade: B–

Hey, here comes Justin, the ‘President of Pop’ and ‘one of the greatest all-around entertainers in the history of show business’, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Sheesh, shows how far a white man can go by pretending — pretending very, very hard — to be black. Maybe there’s a market in the States for the black and white minstrels after all. ‘Off to Alabamy with a banjo on ma knee’, etc. It’s at times like these I’m with the SJW kids on the subject of cultural appropriation — but only because I can’t stand this tripe.


This is Timberlake’s first album in almost five years and it’s awful, of course, but not quite as gut-wrenchingly awful as I had expected. The lyrics are universally imbecilic and irritating, and the more hip the div gets with his tuneless robot rap and R&B schtick the more stupid and boring he sounds — see if you can listen to more than 20 seconds of the terrible single ‘Filthy’ without smashing the room up.

But when he starts aping his long-time heroes Prince and Stevie Wonder the results are slightly less enraging: they are not bad heroes to ape. ‘Midnight Summer Jam’ is acceptable, perky, upbeat Wonder-lite. ‘Man of the Woods’ — a truly fatuous conceit, lyrically — has quite a becoming tune. ‘Sauce’ pins a nice growly rawk guitar to an acceptable chorus. And I actually enjoyed ‘Higher, Higher’, which sounded for all the world like the wonderful Isley Bros were back in business. But they are not back in business and nor, sadly, is Sly Stone. This is what we have instead. Lucky us.


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